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Two recent wood stove fires are a reminder of safety when heating > Massachusetts

PEPPERELL and EAST BRIDGEWATERPepperell Fire Chief Brian L. Borneman, East Bridgewater Fire Chief Timothy M. Harhen, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey are reminding residents to use wood stoves, fireplaces and other heating devices safely after four people were displaced by two fires this week – including one that injured two residents and killed seven dogs.

“As more and more people turn to fireplaces, wood stoves and other home heating alternatives, we want to emphasize the importance of using them safely,” Chief Borneman said. “Always keep the wood stove doors closed unless you are stoking the fire and use a screen in front of a chimney to prevent sparks or embers from escaping. And always keep anything that can burn at least six feet away on all sides.”

“If you use a fireplace or wood stove, always put the fire out before going to bed or leaving the house,” Chief Harhen said. “When the fire is out, wait for the ashes to cool and place them in a metal bucket with a metal lid outside the building. And if you haven’t checked and cleaned your chimney and flue this season, now is a good time to have it done. Many fires start with creosote deposits and can spread through cracks in masonry.”

Residential fires caused by fireplaces, wood stoves and other solid fuel heating appliances are on the rise, State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. They accounted for about 43% of all residential heater fires last year, up from 35% in 2017.

“We are deeply concerned that these numbers will continue to rise as heating prices increase this season,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “No one should have to choose between warmth and security. The Massachusetts Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is available to assist eligible households with winter heating bills and appliance maintenance. Whether you own a house or rent an apartment, it’s free to apply.”

You can apply for heating assistance online or in person through a network of local service providers. Regardless of what type of heating source you use, LIHEAP may be able to help you pay for your winter heating bills and/or maintain your heaters. All Massachusetts residents are encouraged to evaluate eligibility for this free program and apply for assistance.

Two alarms were set off in a fire Sunday night at 47 Mill St. in Pepperell and two people were injured and taken to hospital. Firefighters were able to save three dogs and two cats from the fire. This fire was investigated jointly by the Pepperell Fire Department, the Pepperell Police Department and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit, attached to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. They determined that the fire started in the front-right corner of the home’s living room, where a wood-burning stove was located, and that the most likely cause was embers escaping the stove and igniting nearby combustible materials. Two people were displaced and seven dogs died in this fire.

A fire at 634 West Union St. displaced two people Monday night. Fire investigators from the East Bridgewater Fire Department and State Police jointly determined that this fire started around a wood stove area in the basement and spread upward, causing severe damage and a partial collapse. The fire went to three alarms and two residents were displaced, although fortunately no injuries were reported.

Home heaters cause more than 1,200 home fires in Massachusetts each year, including two fires that killed three people in 2021. To counteract this, the Department of Fire Services has the Keep warm, stay safe Campaign providing tips on fire safety in domestic heating systems in flyers that can be downloaded from the DFS website in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Russian and Vietnamese. full color Keep warm, stay safe Brochures in English and Spanish can also be downloaded or requested in bulk through the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse.